9 Ways to Discuss Frequent Career Changes in a Job Interview
Your recent work history is a bit flighty.
No position in the last few years has lasted longer than a year or so.
There are already so many ways to mess up in an interview.
You have great skills and dedication; how do you communicate it to a hiring team when your resume screams something else?
Here are our best tips for handling frequent career changes during the hiring process.
1 Don’t draw extra attention to the frequent changes.
This one should be pretty obvious, but standard approaches to resume-writing basically highlight the chronology of your work history.
Consider teeing up your experience in a less conventional way. Functional resumes focus on skills and achievements rather than pure work experience. More simply, consider re-positioning the typical “Work History” section as “Experience” and include any relevant projects or volunteering.
2 Make sure you can explain each move as a progression.
For any experience on your resume—but especially for frequent career changes—take time to think through and practice talking about your experience story. Try to frame all your experience as the necessary and inevitable path that culminates with this new employer.
To this end, focus on what you learned and how each change was good for your growth. Bonus points if you can connect any of these growth points to skills you will need for the prospective job.
3 Emphasize what you learned and what you achieved.
When you’re putting together your “Experience Narrative,” making all those career changes make sense will really come down to how much growth and achievement you can show in spite of those short stints. For each position, nail down what specifically you learned and what you achieved in concrete terms.
When you are discussing your growth and achievements, keep in mind that you are trying to convince your interviewer that they will get that return. Make sure that you have a clear sense of your past successes and can discuss them at length.
4 Focus on the pain points you’re good at fixing.
Prior to your interview, make sure you get a good grasp of the needs of the company and how the job you’re applying for is meant to meet those needs. Next, compare those needs to your skills and achievements. Identify those problems that your skills will be able to solve.
During your interview, find ways to relate and discuss those skills in relation to the problems you identified. Take time to highlight your strengths here and take a stab at initial problem-solving with your interviewer. This will not only emphasize the applicability of your skillset, but also shows your familiarity with the company and eagerness to work on these issues.
5 Highlight the long-term commitments you do have.
If you have long-term commitments in other parts of your life—whether it’s a long-term volunteering position or even years spent training for a sport—take whatever you have and make it clear on your resume.
During your interview, if the issue of commitment comes up, it’s fine to acknowledge it. However, try to emphasize that you do have experience with long-term projects or endeavors—and that you see a lot of potential with the prospective company.
6 It’s OK to have bowed out over structural changes.
If some of your recent career moves were due to mergers and organizational changes, be ready to briefly discuss those circumstances. It’s understandable, for example, that after a merger the management and roles on your team shifted and left you without a clear path for growth.
7 Deemphasize lateral career changes in the same field.
Interviewers strongly frown upon lateral career changes where you essentially move into the same position, especially if that move is within the same industry. It’s good to de-emphasize these shifts in your resume and focus on them in your interview prep so that you can successfully explain the story and growth from that change.
8 Never make it about money.
If an interviewer asks you why you left a job and you respond that it was because of the pay, you don’t look savvy. Suddenly it appears that you only care about money and become a flight risk to the hiring team.
9 Ask about career growth.
Do you know what sends a good signal about your willingness to put down roots?
Painting a picture of a future together. You don’t have to do this explicitly, but you can send good signals by asking about career development within the company. It shows that you are planning for your future, and you’re open to that future being with this new company.
Have you frequently changed jobs and successfully negotiated an interview? What worked best for you?